[PHOTO AT LEFT - At Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan, a no-frills hotel, guests get a taste of affordable accommodation with spick-and-span rooms and friendly staff. MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2009 (STAR)  Dubbed as the country’s “rice granary,” Nueva Ecija yields important crops such as rice, corn and onion. Its lush greenery also contributes to the gallons of milk collected from cows and water buffaloes that last year, the province gained another title — the country’s “milk capital.” Agriculture students and scientists usually go to the province, the largest in the region, to go on farm tours.

But there is another reason now to visit Nueva Ecija. Tucked in Cabanatuan, a first-class city, is a sanctuary that offers relaxation away from the madness of a busy life.

Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan gives travelers best-value comfort and convenience. This is the place indeed if you want to be near all the activities (which surprisingly are not limited to farm tours but include a nearby golf course, malls and historical sites) yet be isolated and simply bask on a rustic setting, with the restful sound of nature for that much-needed R&R.

Access to this two-story refuge begins with a three-hour trip from Manila. If you live in nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Zambales, you will find it easy to visit and explore the place as the central bus terminal is within the vicinity.

At first sight, you will be mesmerized with the stark yet picture-perfect facade and surrounding greenery. There is no fence around, so you will surely feel free to explore beyond the pastures.

Upon entering the lobby, Microtel staffers greet guests with warm smiles, like family members opening their homes to friends and kin. There is no fancy chandelier or intimidating décor; instead, there are cozy sofas and wooden tables accented with artistic native pieces.

A unique wall décor weaves the entire look together. A 24-hour vending machine is in place as well as a water dispenser where free-flowing coffee is available. A big ice storage machine is also positioned near the stairs.

The comfortable ambience allows visitors to easily feel at home; children can run around without parents worrying about breaking glass accessories. The look is clean, subdued, fresh and inviting.

Microtel has 50 furnished rooms — 44 double rooms and six suite rooms, all equipped with an electronic keycard entry system. Safety is also guaranteed with the automated fire system.

There are rooms for the physically disabled, allowing them to move around easily. Adjoining rooms are also in place. This setting is great for families and friends who want easy access to each other while still maintaining their privacy. All rooms have chiropractor-approved mattresses, not too stiff but not too soft either; they are just comfortable.

Joel Cucueco, resident manager of Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan, says the beds are Microtel’s pride and joy. These beds are also found in other Microtel franchises around the world, truly living up to their tagline: “The same great hotel everywhere you go!”

The beds, queen-sized, not the usual double beds found in most hotels, are the ideal nest to sleep on. Topped with comfortable bed linens and three pillows per bed, every guest is bound to have a comfortable slumber with plenty of room to move around. Baby cribs can also be requested.

There are light fixtures in the recess above the bed with switches, so guests can effortlessly diffuse harsh lighting or create areas of light. The rooms are also equipped with an individually controlled air-conditioning unit, leaving the decision to turn up or lower the cooling to the guest.

There is also a multi-function telephone system with IDD and NDD as well as radio clock. Guests can even catch the latest news on cable. Mixing business with pleasure is easy here with the convenience of Wi-Fi connection inside the guestrooms. Just ask the staffers on how to have Internet access.

A long window seat is placed in each room, perfect for viewing the fields or simply for musing. The cabinet is large enough to fit clothes, shoes and other personal belongings. Drinking glasses and an ice bucket are placed in a vanity table that also has a small chair.

The same simplicity and cleanliness are also felt in the toilet and shower, where hot and cold water is available. For the suites, there is a bathtub.

Microtel, Cucueco says, is a no-frills, limited-service hotel, so one will not see toiletries such as shampoos and shower caps. Cucueco reasons that hotel guests typically bring their own toiletries when checking in.

Each room, however, is provided with small soaps. What it lacks in toiletries, Microtel makes up for lots of towels — from the bath size to the small ones.

Unlike the double rooms that have no refrigerator and microwave oven, the suites are outfitted with such amenities and others like coffee/tea-making facilities, kitchen counter with sink, and sofa sleeper. The absence of refrigerator and microwave oven in the double room results in plenty of room for guests — more space for luggage and shopping bags.

Unwinding inside the guestrooms is already relaxing enough. But one can also spend an afternoon in the swimming pool at the back. Surrounded by trees, taking a dip amid the sky and the cool breeze is a moment to savor.

Companies going on seminars will benefit from the function room that can accommodate up to 100 people. Microtel currently has a “Stay and Learn” program where students are taught the basics of hotel management. High school and college students from Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Zambales and Pangasinan have spent days and nights in Microtel learning the nitty-gritty of hotel operations.

Business services such as photocopy, fax and mailing facilitate a smooth run in trainings and seminars. An in-property restaurant of Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan prepares delectable dishes that both trainees and guests can enjoy.

Journeying outside Microtel Inn and Suites comes easy. When feeling adventurous, just hail a tricycle and start exploring Cabanatuan and its nearby districts. Or inform the Microtel staff for a shuttle to go to the main road or the bus terminals. Drop-off and pick-up services can also be arranged.

If the guests are into photography, they may want to take part in the second run of the Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan’s basic digital photography workshop dubbed “In Your Eyes.”

At Microtel Inn and Suites Cabanatuan, everyone gets a taste of the affordable accommodation with spick-and-span rooms and friendly staff and experience Nueva Ecija’s historic landmarks and unique destinations.

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For more information, visit www.microtel-cabanatuan.com.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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